Davidson Police Officer Melvin Waller climbed onto his bike in Charlotte Thursday at 9am and began pedaling the first of what will be a 500-mile ride to Washington, DC, over the next few days. Waller and about 85 other officers from around the area are taking part in their annual Bike to DC, which honors fallen police officers.
Waller has dedicated his ride to officers including Mark Allen Swaney, a Davidson officer who died on Christmas Day 1997 in an exchange of gunfire that also killed a suspect on Davidson’s West Side.
The ride as a whole has been dubbed “500 Miles for Fred,” in memory of the late Charlotte Mecklenburg officer Fred Thornton, who died Feb. 25, 2011.
“We’re honoring fallen officers – going the extra mile,” Waller said in an interview the other day as he was heavily into training for the ride. “These officers gave the ultimate sacrifice, their lives.”
The ride to Washington follows a “very hilly route,” Waller said. Although he was an avid rider in the past, he hasn’t been on the bike as much in recent years. He got back on the road last year for this ride. This year, he said, “I’ve been humping it, doing training rides to get ready for this.”
The five-day trip, which coincides with National Police Week, wraps up Monday with a vigil at the National Police Officers Memorial in Washington. That event will include not only the riders, but also the families of officers around the country who lost their lives. “It’s just amazing to see,” Waller said.
WANT TO HELP?
Officers on the Ride to DC are raising money to support the cost of the trip. To donate, please go to BiketoDC.com. Please remember to include Melvin Waller’s name as the cyclist.